"Knucklehead," the latest WWE Studios effort, is screening in just six theaters on Saturday and Sunday (with a very limited amount of showings, even for two days). The DVD & Blu Ray releases are due on November 9th. At the one New York City location, it has two showings tomorrow (11:00 AM and 3:25 PM) and one on Sunday (11:00 AM). Well, at least they learned their lesson with Legendary and are making much less of an effort for the "credibility" of a theatrical release.
The reviews, as you'd expect (especially if you've seen the trailer), have been largely awful, with a 11% Fresh (positive) rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The five reviews by those listed as "Top Critics" on the site are all negative.
Kyle Smith of The New York Post gives one star out of four:
A fast-talking fight promoter who needs money to pay off a loan shark stumbles upon a gentle giant who might be the answer to his problems in "Knucklehead," a 2010 movie that could have been made in 1940
"Knucklehead" 's candy corn heart and shameless predictability are almost touching in their obliviousness to anything that's happened in movies in recent decades.
Michelle Orange of The Village Voice:
Orphans, Nuns, WWE, and MMA? What Could Possibly Go Wrong in Knucklehead?
A schmaltzy family comedy that won't pass the smell test for kids, parents, or even stoner second cousins, Knucklehead is too sluggish for young attention spans, and not inventive enough to keep adults engaged
sub-sitcom humor prevails-every comic beat seems to have arrived from an echo chamber that hosted its last laugh in 1974.
Mike Hale of the New York Times:
"Knucklehead" tries for a chokehold on the young male audience with the sort of frat-house sports humor associated with Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller: flatulence, gay jokes, Jewish jokes, testicle jokes...A number of talented performers are stymied by this mediocre material, including Mark Feuerstein, Melora Hardin, Wendie Malick, Will Patton and Saul Rubinek.
Roger Moore of the Orlando Setinel gives it one and a half stars out of four:
First fight? Backstage at a synagogue, where a hustler rabbi (Saul Rubinek) "oys" and "gevalts" and takes bets before hurling Sugar Ray Goldberg at Walter.
"That guy hates Christmas!" Eddie hisses to psyche Walter up. "How can anybody hate Christmas?" A brawl ensues, with Walter wearing tidy whiteys instead of trunks and not knowing how to throw a punch. After he's "Met some nice Jews," he moves on and is tossed into the ring with "Bare Knuckle Dave," who teaches Walter and Eddie that it's important to know how the folks spell "bare" before agreeing to a fight.
Daft moments like that are scattered in the film, with Wight doing a nice deadpan and showing a gift for physical comedy - slamming his head into the roof of the battered orphanage bus they travel in. Malick is reliably testy and hilarious, but the funny Rubinek would have been a better choice for the trainer/manager. Feurstein lacks that comic spark, at least in this film.
There's a whole "Youtube fame" thing meant to follow Walter that doesn't work, and after an hour, the filmmakers pretty much give up on finding anything else funny in this
Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter takes the obvious route with the title:
Only a "Knucklehead" would see this film
The attempted humor is strictly of the low-rent variety, with the main comic set pieces involving Walter's size, his propensity for flatulence and his horrific bout with gastro-intestinal distress on a crowded bus.
Feuerstein and Hardin are game enough, but they look like they'd prefer to be back on the small screen in "Royal Pains" and "The Office," respectively. The massive, childlike Wight is a likable-enough figure but is not exactly likely to hit the screen heights of such predecessors as the Rock or even John Cena.
Joshua Rothkopf of Time Out New York gives it one star out of five:
If you take your kids to this, you deserve the inevitable fist to nuts.
A distinctly shameless and shoddily made family comedy, this WWE production for wrestler Big Show (Wight) turns an already saccharine plot into a toxic, fart-laden piledriver.
A mere plot summary can't begin to approximate the way you'll feel manhandled by a stridently wacky orchestral score (more syrup for your pancakes?) and story elements seemingly selected by a brain-dead Hulkamaniac.
I have an odd desire to see this eventually, if just to see if it's IMDB Bottom 100 level bad.